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September 19, 2017

[VIDEO] Youths storm Kisumu hotel, harass women accused of buying IDs

Youths in Kisumu protest at the gate of Jumuia hotel where they accused a church group of buying IDS ahead of the election, September 13, 2017. /FAITH MATETE
Youths in Kisumu protest at the gate of Jumuia hotel where they accused a church group of buying IDS ahead of the election, September 13, 2017. /FAITH MATETE

Police in Kisumu fired teargas and bullet in the air to disperse residents who stormed Jumuyia hotel on Wednesday.

An officer said they women attending an election meeting following claims some people were buying IDs at the facility.

But a woman who was roughed up by a mob said they were at the hotel to advocate for peace ahead of the October 17 election.

The residents hurled stones at the hotel smashing its windows. 

The meeting by the Nyanza Women of Faith Network included people from Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii, Kisumu and Siaya counties. The lot checked into the hotel on Tuesday.

The region is a stronghold of Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Pastor Alice Owour of Delivence Church said the group stormed in as she made a presentation and took her bag which had money, personal effects and a Bible.

"They stormed the meeting accusing us of working with Jubilee agents to buy IDs from residents," Owuor said after police rescued the meeting's attendees.

"They harassed and threatened to rape a number of us...They started interrogating us and beating..."

She said they were locked up in the hotel for some time after the youths continued to throw stones. 

Pastor Alice Owour of Delivence Church addresses the press following chaos during their meeting at Jumuia hotel in Kisumu, September 13, 2017. /FAITH MATETE

A Reuters witness said the men also broke chairs. Another witness said young men attacked participants using the broken chairs.

"We deployed police and they fired tear gas and bullets in the air and chased the group of young boys away," county AP boss Joseph Keitany told Reuters.

"The youth started beating women and they stole their laptops and money" before police arrived.

Keitany said he believed the men stormed the hotel because of rumours circulating on WhatsApp that the women’s meeting was intended to plan the renting of voter identification cards.

This is a rigging tactic alleged by the Opposition ahead of last month's election, where online hoaxes and fake stories were alleged from all sides.

More on election: [VIDEO] Kenya Election: Cops tear-gas Raila supporters in Kisumu demo

Also read: Life has to go on, Nyanza residents say amid deadly post-election protests

Women are assisted following chaos during their meeting at Jumuia hotel in Kisumu, September 13, 2017. /FAITH MATETE

Participants in the meeting denied that was the purpose and said they were meeting to see how to encourage peaceful voting.

A Reuters witness said he saw a Red Cross ambulance taking three women to hospital.

Kenya held presidential, legislative and local elections on August 8, but three weeks later the Supreme Court nullified the presidential result, citing irregularities in the tallying process. A re-run is scheduled for October 17.

Although the ruling ushered in a period of uncertainty, many hope it will restore some faith in Kenya's tarnished institutions, reducing the long-term likelihood of political violence.

In 2007, a disputed presidential vote led to protests and ethnic violence that killed 1,200 people. Following the August election, human rights organisations reported at least 28 deaths, mostly linked to police. But the protests were quelled when the opposition decided to take its complaints to court.

Kenya's vocal civil society organisations have been working hard to plan monitoring and advocacy around the new vote.

The nation is the region's richest economy and a stable Western ally in a region roiled by conflict.

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